Broncos ready for first state title shot
No. 2 Lee's Summit North faces No. 1 and undefeated Rock Bridge in delayed Class 5 state softball title game
It would be easy for Lee’s Summit North softball coach John Gage to be a bit upset or disappointed that the Class 5 state championship game was moved from Thursday to 2 p.m. Friday, but he’s taking it all in stride.
“If we were already in Springfield, it would be a problem because we’d be in our hotel rooms, looking for a place to practice and it just wouldn’t be a good situation,” said Gage, whose second-ranked Broncos (28-3) take on undefeated and top-ranked Columbia Rock Bridge (28-0) for the title at Killian Softball Complex.
“We actually got out Wednesday and practiced on our own field, which was pretty amazing since there was snow on the field Tuesday. We got in a great practice and hope to get another practice in (Thursday) before we leave for Springfield.
“And we hear that the rain is going to move out and that there is a good chance we will be able to play Friday. The main thing is, we’ve made it to the state championship for the first time in school history and we’re all excited to play Rock Bridge.”
The Broncos take an explosive offense and one of the top pitchers in the state into the title game, a first for both the Broncos and the Bruins. Junior Cierra Harrison will put her 23-2 record and 1.31 ERA on the line against Rock Bridge.
“We’re going to state, and we are so excited,” said Harrison, who saw her and her team’s path to the state championship game blocked by local rival Blue Springs South, as the Jaguars won state titles the past two years. “We finally got past South and now we're excited about playing in the championship game.”
Harrison added that the Broncos are going to state to take care of business and that means bringing some hardware back to Lee’s Summit.
“We’re excited about going, but we’re going with one goal – to win a state championship,” said Harrison, who has 258 strikeouts in just 155 1/3 innings and will face Rock Bridge senior ace Ella Schouten. “We won’t be intimidated by Rock Bridge. We will respect them, but we won’t be intimidated. We’re a good team and we’re playing our best right now when it matters.”
One of the Broncos’ leaders on, and off, the field is senior all-state shortstop Kinsey Fiedler, who has committed to the University of Washington.
“This season has been like a dream come true,” said Fiedler, who has hit the second-most home runs (17) in a single season in the history of the state, to go along with a .410 batting average, 41 RBIs, 49 runs and a 1.564 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Fiedler isn’t the only offensive weapon the Broncos have. Senior third baseman Halle Howes is hitting .485 with 12 doubles, eight home runs and 43 RBIs; senior Maddie Burton is hitting .376 with five homers and 34 RBIs; senior outfielder Sydney McGee is hitting .359 with 15 RBIs and 40 runs; and senior catcher Sydney Cure is hitting .402 with 12 doubles, four homers and 28 RBIs.
“It seems like so long ago that we were worrying in the summer if we would even be able to play softball this fall, and now, we’re in the state championship game,” Fiedler said. “This is just the perfect way to end my career at North with all my teammates and coaches.
“We’re like a family, and we can’t wait for that state championship game.”